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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, December 07, 2017 1:00 am

Colleagues press Franken to resign

Associated Press

WASHINGTON – His once-promising political career in shambles, Minnesota Sen. Al Franken appeared on the verge of resigning after fellow Democrats led by female senators abandoned him Wednesday over the mounting allegations of sexual misconduct that are roiling Capitol Hill.

A majority of the Senate's Democrats called on the two-term lawmaker to get out after another woman emerged Wednesday saying he forcibly tried to kiss her in 2006. That brought to at least seven the number of women accusing him of sexual impropriety.

Franken, the former comedian who made his name on “Saturday Night Live,” scheduled an announcement for today. No topic was specified, however, Democratic senators said they expected their liberal colleague to resign.

“Enough is enough,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. “We need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is OK, none of it is acceptable, and we, as elected leaders, should absolutely be held to a higher standard.”

Gillibrand was the first to call for Franken's resignation on Wednesday, but a torrent of Democrats quickly followed.

“I'm shocked and appalled by Sen. Franken's behavior,” said Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state. “It's clear to me that this has been a deeply harmful, persistent problem and a clear pattern over a long period of time. It's time for him to step aside.”

Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana was among the Democratic senators calling for Franken to quit. “Senator Franken's conduct and behavior are unacceptable and he should resign,” Donnelly said in a statement.

Though the writing appeared to be on the wall, Franken's departure was not certain. A tweet posted Wednesday evening on Franken's Twitter account said: “Senator Franken is talking with his family at this time and plans to make an announcement in D.C. tomorrow. Any reports of a final decision are inaccurate.”

Late in the day, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York added his voice.

“I consider Senator Franken a dear friend and greatly respect his accomplishments, but he has a higher obligation to his constituents and the Senate, and he should step down immediately,” Schumer said.

Schumer called Franken immediately after the latest allegation – and before the torrent of demands for Franken's resignation from Democrats – and told him he needed to resign, said a Democrat familiar with the events. Schumer met later in his apartment with Franken and Franken's wife, Franni, and repeated that message, said the Democrat, who spoke to Associated Press on condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.

Brian Francisco of The Journal Gazette contributed to this report.